Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Posts about Anthony Herrera

Peterson wins Vikings' Ed Block Courage Award

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: December 18, 2012 - 4:40 PM

Adrian Peterson was chosen the Vikings' Ed Block Courage Award winner by his teammates.

Since 1984, each team names a winner of the award to recognize a teammate who overcomes great adversity.

Peterson has rebounded from major knee surgery to challenge the NFL's single-season rushing record.

Here is the team's release:

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been selected as the 2012 Ed Block Courage Award recipient by his teammates.

During Week 16 of the 2011 season, Peterson tore his ACL and MCL against the Washington Redskins. Eight months removed from the major knee injury, Peterson was true to his word and was in the starting lineup for Week 1 of the 2012 season. Peterson scored 2 TDs and rushed for 84 yards in the overtime victory versus Jacksonville. The 4-time Pro Bowler has appeared and started in all 14 games this season.

Peterson is in the midst of his greatest season as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. The 2-time All-Pro RB currently leads the NFL with 1,812 rushing yards and is tied for 2nd with 11 rushing TDs. Over the past 8 games, Peterson has rushed for over 100 yards 8 times and eclipsed the 200-yard mark twice. His 1,313 rushing yards since Week 7 ranks as the best 8-game stretch in NFL history. With 2 games to play, the 6-year veteran is 294 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards set in 1984. He has tied Barry Sanders’ (’97) record of 7 50+ yard rushes in a single season. Peterson has 2 TD runs of 82 yards this season, a career long.

Since 1984 the Ed Block Courage Awards annually honors one player from every NFL team who exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Recipients are selected by a vote of their teammates to recognize both on and off the field extra efforts and their ability to overcome great adversity, whether it be personal or professional. The Ed Block Courage Award is named in honor of Ed Block, the longtime head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts. Winners travel to Baltimore every March to receive their trophy at a gala in their honor and spend time at the local Courage House at St. Vincent’s Center, a facility specializing in working with abused children. This visit, and the time spent with the children, allows each recipient to fully comprehend the true meaning of the award.

For more information on the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, visit www.edblock.org.

Vikings Ed Block Courage Honorees
Adrian Peterson…….2012
Anthony Herrera……...2011
Cedric Griffin............... 2010
E.J. Henderson........... 2009
Kenechi Udeze........... 2008
Chad Greenway......... 2007
Matt Birk....................... 2006
Koren Robinson.......... 2005
Corey Chavous........... 2004
Eric Kelly...................... 2003
Lewis Kelly.................. 2002
Daunte Culpepper..... 2001
Gary Anderson............ 2000
Robert Griffith.............. 1999
Randall Cunningham 1998
Robert Smith............... 1997
Scottie Graham........... 1996
John Randle................ 1995
Cris Carter................... 1994
Henry Thomas............ 1993
Darrin Nelson.............. 1992
Terry Allen................... 1991
Gary Zimmerman....... 1990
Jim Gustafson............. 1989
Leo Lewis.................... 1988
Scott Studwell............. 1987
Walker Lee Ashley..... 1986
Keith Nord.................... 1985
Steve Riley................... 1984
 

Chat OT: What's up with Jerome Simpson's saga?

Posted by: Updated: October 17, 2012 - 12:20 PM

If you missed my live Vikings chat on Tuesday afternoon, you can check in here and read the back and forth in full. In addition, each week I will attempt to go overtime, bringing good questions I didn’t get around to answering on the chat here to the Access Vikings blog for discussion. Here are Tuesday’s leftovers.

Question 1: Regarding last week’s loss in Washington, do you think the Vikings’ style of play, particularly defensively, is more suited to a fast artificial turf as opposed to real grass?

Yeesh. I don’t know. I think that might be delving a little too deep into things. What I think is that the Vikings’ defense is better suited to not playing a ridiculously fast and athletic quarterback who also throws well and is operating in an unconventional system that uses a lot of zone read stuff that puts pressure on all three levels of the D. I really didn’t view RG3’s explosion Sunday as a step back for the defense. I don’t think anyone internally saw it that way either. The perfect “Get Well” game is coming Sunday against a back-up quarterback (Arizona’s John Skelton) with a terrible offensive line.

Question 2: How many sacks do you see the defense compiling, considering Arizona's offensive line issues?

The Cardinals have given up 22 sacks in the past three games alone. Only one other team in the NFL has given up more than 20 sacks all season. That’s Green Bay with 23. There’s a reason Kevin Kolb isn’t playing this week. The guy has been battered silly because the offensive line in front of him has been so inept. There’s no excuse for the Vikings not to take advantage. Yes, you still have to devote attention to Larry Fitzgerald. But if I’m defensive coordinator Alan Williams, I’m dialing up the pressure over and over and over again on Sunday until Arizona stops it. Last week, the Cardinals gave up five sacks to Buffalo and that was considered progress after what the Dolphins and Rams did. So, I’ll put the over-under on Vikings’ sacks at 5.5.

Question 3: Many people believe that the most important thing for good O-Line play is cohesion. Given that the Vikings' line is currently playing well despite the offseason changes, can our current line become a truly dominant one if we keep them together for a few years? I miss Anthony Herrera, but with the results so far this year, that is tempered somewhat.

Question 4: Last game the Vikings put in Geoff Schwartz at right guard, as a substitute for Brandon Fusco, just to "get some tape on him". I'm sure it's too early to make a switch at the guard position -- but are the coaches and team happy with the progress on the offensive line -- or are there changes a'comin?

Really good questions. First things first, I think we found one of the few folks who misses Anthony Herrera. Yes, Herrera played with a contagious feistiness and really made the most out of his potential for a long while with the Vikings. But let’s be honest, by the end of last season, Herrera wasn’t really producing. As far as the current o-line goes, that unit has been solid but not spectacular through six games. I’d still like to see Phil Loadholt show a little more consistency at right tackle.

And as for right guard, stay tuned on this one. Rick Spielman is a big fan of Brandon Fusco but Fusco himself will admit he’s struggled at times this season, still feeling out the NFL game. And when his confidence dips – and he admits it has – he gets a little bit too anxious.

Leslie Frazier may have done a great job of couching Schwartz’s Sunday insertion as a means of “getting some tape on him.” But in the middle of a tough road game during a three-game winning streak, you don’t just start trying to get tape on a guy (especially an offensive lineman) unless you have some level of seriousness in potentially working him into the mix. Remember, Schwartz didn’t play at all in 2011 and missed the preseason in 2012. So there’s only so much evaluation you can do on a guy in practice when the in-the-trenches warfare is kept to the bare minimum. So I understand the urge for the Vikings to want to get a fuller evaluation on Schwartz in live game action to figure out exactly what they have. But you only do that if there’s a small thought budding in the back of your mind that you might need to make a switch at that position at some point.

Fusco still is the starter at right guard. But these next three or four games will be critical for him to prove that he deserves to continue starting.

Question 5: What is going on with Jerome Simpson? The last thing we need is drama on this team. He says he was fine Sunday, yet the Vikes declared him inactive. What's the deal?

Question 6: Is there something going on behind the scenes with Jerome Simpson to explain why he did not play?

Question 7: Has any player in your memory had more irrational fan support and irrational expectations than Jerome Simpson? Especially given that he was a signed as a convicted felon who had a tendency to drop the easy pass and has seemed to have a difficult time staying on the field.

The Simpson mystery will be under the microscope this week, especially since he seemed so agitate that he couldn’t play in Washington. We still haven’t gotten clarification on just what the back injury that’s bothering him is specifically. And so it’s difficult to truly understand how much difficulty it could cause physically. But Simpson insists he’s fine and this week is his chance to prove it – both in practice and against Arizona.

I understand that there has been a lot of Jerome Simpson conversation since last spring. But there are reasons for that. First and foremost, the Vikings’ receiving corps beyond Harvin is as mediocre as you’ll find in the NFL. So when a guy comes in with track star speed and the ability to do flips over defensive backs, it’s understandable why there’s intrigue.

And now, with the Vikings clearly deficient when it comes to a vertical passing game, Simpson is the only logical catalyst to change that. So again, the intrigue grows.

Lastly, this Vikings team has been pretty good so far. And since Adrian Peterson’s odd July arrest, there have been few strange, controversial or conversation-worthy off-the-field storylines to follow. So the conversation has to go somewhere.

Question 8: Why is Kyle Rudolph dropping so many passes? Mel Kiper said his hands were his best attribute. Do you think it has something to do with those white gloves he wears? Or do you think Christian is just throwing off the mark?

Question 9: Rudolph seemed to have an off day against the ‘Skins. Many dropped passes and the holding call. Did he eat the same pregame meal as Blair Walsh?

First of all, if you’re worried about Kyle Rudolph’s hands, perhaps it’s time to queue up the second-half touchdown catch he had against San Francisco or the ridiculous TD grab he had two weeks later to put the exclamation point on that thrashing of Tennessee. Those catches are incredible examples of Rudolph’s strengths.

Furthermore, he did have six catches for 56 yards with both a 1-yard TD grab and a two-point conversion catch against Washington. So that takes us to the other six passes thrown Rudolph’s way in Washington that he didn’t catch. Here’s the assessment of those:

  • Second quarter, 10:44 left, first-and-10 from the Minnesota 36: Christian Ponder’s pass toward Rudolph in the flat is at the tight end’s shoe tops. Not a drop.
  • Second quarter, 1:59 left, second-and-3 from the Minnesota 30: Ponder’s pass 9 yards down the field is a bit left of Rudolph who has Redskins defenders on both sides of him. Not a drop.
  • Third quarter, 6:38 left, first-and-10 from the Redskins 39: On play action, Ponder’s pass to Rudolph is nowhere close. High and right. Incomplete.
  • Fourth quarter, 10:44 left, second-and-2 from the Redskins 36. On a quick, over the middle pass 7 yards past the line of scrimmage, Rudolph bobbles and clearly drops a Ponder pass that was right on his numbers. This was his only true drop of the day.
  • Fourth quarter, 6:18 left, first-and-10 from the Minnesota 33. Another 7-yard, over-the-middle throw from Ponder to Rudolph is broken up nicely by linebacker Perry Riley. Tremendous defensive play.
  • Fourth quarter, 3:42 left, two-point conversion attempt. Rudolph is 2 yards deep in the end zone and Ponder puts a decent pass in his direction. But Riley impedes Rudolph’s movement by gripping his jersey on his left side just above his waist. The pass hits Rudolph’s outstretched left hand, but he has no chance of getting both mitts on it. Rudolph seemed infuriated to not get a pass interference call. Verdict: Not a drop.

Lastly, for clarification, Rudolph did not have a holding penalty Sunday. It was a false start in the final minute that nullified Adrian Peterson’s 1-yard TD run. Just a flinch that he got called for.

Did you hear? The Vikings’ offseason in 50 quotes

Posted by: Updated: July 23, 2012 - 7:35 AM

The Vikings will report to training camp Thursday at Minnesota State University in Mankato, the official beginning to the 2012 preseason. And just to bring you up to speed with everything that’s happened since the final snap of the 2011 season, here are 50 quotes to sum up the action since New Year’s Day.

****

“In departing this locker room, I just expressed my appreciation for the fight our guys showed throughout the year. With as difficult as this season has been and with the number of close losses we’ve had, [it was encouraging] for them to show the resolve they have shown.” – Head coach Leslie Frazier on Jan. 1 after a 17-13 home loss to the Bears gave the Vikings a 3-13 record for the 2011 season

“It's an exciting day. It really is. 2011-12 is over. It was miserable record-wise, so I'm glad it's over. We can start building for the future now.” – Defensive end Jared Allen on Jan. 2, as the Vikings closed the books on 2011 and headed into the offseason

“Relieved. We can finally close this book up and throw it in the trash.” – Receiver Percy Harvin, echoing Allen’s sentiments

“Our ownership, our head coach, our coaching staff, all the people involved in this decision process will get a voice to say what they think. The difference will be when we make our personnel decisions and when we go forward I will have the final authority on what that decision is going to be.” – Rick Spielman, upon being promoted from vice president of player personnel to general manager

“The general manager's role allows the franchise to look at goals in a more longer-term vision. Because they realize that the long term puts the franchise on solid footing. I think that's the major aspect of having this structure; it's for the franchise to really give long-term stability to this organization.” – Owner Zygi Wilf, explaining Spielman’s promotion

"I’m a position coach. I’m not a coordinator. I’m not a head coach. When I look at what I did with the Minnesota Vikings, my piece of the puzzle was to make the defensive line play as well as they could. We played well against the run. I think we finished No. 11 against the run. And we finished No. 1 in sacks. And the guy I coached led the league in sacks with 22 on a team that really didn’t have a lead the last eight games of the year. So I thought that was my piece of the puzzle. I can’t worry about running backs, defensive backs, receivers, linebackers. When you do it, you focus on your job, put your piece of the puzzle in and go from there." – Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, reacting after he was fired from the coaching staff in early January

“I would think what I do best is to be able to develop a young player and have him at a winning level early in his career. And when I say early, I mean in the first part of his career, the first year. … What I did in Indianapolis was I developed the young players so that when a veteran was out, a young player could hold down the fort and play winning football until that veteran, until the starter came back.” – Alan Williams, hired to be the Vikings’ new defensive coordinator after 10 years as a defensive backs coach In Indianapolis

“In 2012, as we’re putting this together, I really want to be involved in what we’re doing and how we’re playing things. I really want to make sure we’re headed in the right direction … I don’t want to say I want to take [the defense] over, now. I don’t want to do that. I don’t think it would serve me very well to immerse myself to the point where I can’t oversee some of the things I need to see.” – Frazier, immediately after Williams’ hiring, acknowledging his desire to have a hand in how things are run

“He’s a fiery guy. I like that about him. He’s going to get after our butts. He gets really excited. Some coaches might be more reserved. But he’ll get really fired up when you make a good play or even a bad play. That’ll be a different element that will hopefully be good for us.” – Defensive tackle Kevin Williams, on the hiring of Brendan Daly to be the new defensive line coach. Daly had previous been an assistant d-line coach for the Vikings from 2006-08

“The fact that we get a chance to get our hands on the players is huge. We get to talk with them, spend time with them, eat in the cafeteria with them, talk to them about their lifestyle. It will be immeasurable the time that we’ll be able to be around them and be able to evaluate these players.” – Frazier, on the Vikings’ opportunity to coach the North squad at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. There the Vikings worked closely with safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Audie Cole, players they drafted in April.

****

“Christian’s going to get there. It’s a process. He’s going to have some highs, he’s going to have some lows. But as a quarterback you have to learn how to handle success and lack of success. And that’s how your true grit is going to be determined. And when you have a lack of success early – even Peyton Manning had some – and people say, ‘Well, all you do is throw interceptions,’ well Peyton learned to quit throwing interceptions. That’s part of the process. Every guy comes with a different time on their maturation process. And the teams around them are different.” – Quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson on the need for quarterback Christian Ponder to take a big step forward in his second season

“The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for performance, but also for injuring opposing players. The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity. It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated." -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, dropping the bombshell that a league investigation turned up an organized bounty program within the Saints organization. The investigation also revealed that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was allegedly a target during the NFC Championship game in 2010.

“This is troubling to me as a human being. Football is a violent game. Guys get hurt all the time. But you want to be out there with the comfort that other guys aren’t purposely out trying to injure you. At that point, you’re not safe.” – Punter Chris Kluwe, on the revelations of the Saints’ bounty program

"There needs to be strong punishment any time a coach or a player thinks they can take someone else's career into their own hands and purposely do something that could end it. We all play hard. But to give bonuses for carting someone off the field? Man, that's just wrong. There's no place for that in the NFL, and I think it's now safe to say you won't be hearing about bounties in the NFL ever again." – Allen, responding to Goodell’s crackdown on the Saints in response to the discovered bounty program

“The only thing bigger is being in God’s kingdom. I’ll tell you that I’m totally blown away by this and just so humbled by it.” – Former Vikings star Chris Doleman, on being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February

“Is the left tackle that important or is it more important to have playmakers on offense? Because when your quarterback evolves, he learns the system, he gets the ball out of his hand quicker and all of a sudden that left tackle doesn’t need to be a Pro Bowl left tackle. He can be a functional left tackle … That’s the burning bush question. Is it more important to get a left tackle or is it more important to get the playmakers around [Ponder]?” – Spielman, when asked at the combine to assess his interest in Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil

“You’ve got to really weigh your options. Because the philosophy [in the NFL] has always been to get the game-changer. And left tackle is not necessarily the game-changer. Usually game-changers are the guys who
can score you points. Receivers. Quarterbacks. So what are we measuring that left tackle against? It’s a loaded debate.” – Frazier, also assessing the worth of Kalil as the Vikings considered their options with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft

“Watching my film and going back, there are so many blatantly dumb mistakes that are easily correctable. That’s the kind of thing that makes me excited about next year, realizing how easy it is to change certain things. It’s just going to make me a lot better and put our team in a much better position to be successful.” – Ponder, assessing his rookie year struggles

"It was a tough decision as we move forward and prepare for the upcoming season and the future of our organization. All three individuals have meant a great deal to the Vikings organization both on and off field over the years. We wish all of them the best and thank them for their service to the Minnesota Vikings." – Frazier, commenting on the release of veterans Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera and Cedric Griffin, the initial roster transactions that set the Vikings’ youth movement in motion.

“Adversity introduces a man to himself. This was definitely an adverse situation and I learned a lot about myself. I control my destiny. My actions control who I am and what I become in the future.” – Cornerback Chris Cook in March, immediately after he was acquitted of all charges in his felony domestic assault trial

***

“We have thoroughly considered Chris’ situation and how he has approached this matter. We will meet with Chris in the near future and believe he deserves the opportunity to rejoin our organization.” – Statement from the Vikings on Cook’s acquittal

“This got his attention. As hard as it was that period of time, I told him if he handles it the right way, it can be a turning point in his life. Yet, we’ll see.” – Frazier, on welcoming Cook back into the mix

"I wouldn't have come back here if I didn't think the Vikings had a great thing going and a chance to be really special on the offensive side of the ball. That's something I want to be a part of.” – Tight end John Carlson, the Vikings’ biggest free agent acquisition this offseason

"Just give us time to put this roster together. We're not only putting it together for 2012. We're building this roster to be able to maintain it for over the next three to four to five years … I don't think we're a player or two away to go out and spend the money that's being spent on all those players that have gotten contracts early.” – Spielman, explaining the organization’s conservative approach in free agency

“We’re fully aware of what’s around the country in terms of stadiums around the league. We believe we have some of the best fans in the NFL. And we want them to have the kind of first-rate experience other cities have.” – Vikings owner Mark Wilf, speaking at the NFL owners meetings with pleas for the franchise to get full approval for a new stadium

“He’s just what the doctor ordered for the Viking offense. He’s an explosive guy who can really adjust and adapt to the football. And it’s really fun watching him after the catch, which is a skill he demonstrated for the whole league last year when he was with Cincinnati.” – Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, after the Vikings signed free agent receiver Jerome Simpson

“Everyone thinks you’re crazy if you don’t take the left tackle.” – Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman, to Spielman at a press conference the week before the NFL Draft

“Maybe I am, Sid. Maybe I am.” – Spielman in response

“We saw [Kalil] as a guy who could be a Pro Bowler for a long time. That was obvious from our standpoint. Along with what we’re trying to do with our quarterback. We wanted to make sure we do the things that are necessary to ensure that he has success. This gives us a chance to take that step in that direction.” – Frazier, immediately after the Vikings drafted Kalil

***

“Going to Notre Dame and being a captain, you’re already on a big stage. Then once you’re the captain you’re getting scrutinized win or lose. There are ups and downs along the road. So I have dealt with being a leader of a team that’s gone through things. Knowing how to deal with guys and helping younger guys interact with the coaches, I think it’s just given me a whole lot of experience you can’t really find in any other role.” Safety Harrison Smith, after being drafted in the first round by the Vikings

“Our theme was getting smart, tough football players who love to play the game. And I think all these guys we were able to draft fit that bill.” – Spielman, after completing the draft with 10 new rookies added to the team

“I love Adrian. But let’s make this clear: I’m still not going to be quoted as saying he’s going to play in the first game. That’s not fair. I don’t know that … He’ll keep throwing that [Sept. 9 date] out there. And good for him. That’s great. That’s obviously our goal, to get him playing the first game. But only if he’s functionally safe to do it. This is our franchise. We can’t be foolish about this.” – Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, assessing Adrian Peterson’s rehab progress in May and the running back’s much-publicized goal to be back at full strength for Week 1

“With the experts, I’m sure 90 or 95 percent of the time, they’re right with their estimates. But there are some guys you can’t put the traditional timetable on. Some guys are different. I just happen to feel I’m one of those guys.” – Peterson, a day later, reiterating his vision of being back on the field and contributing in the 2012 season opener

“Attitude is critical with this. If you’re not really stable with who you are, an injury like this can be a huge blow to your ego. You’re the king of the hill, then all of a sudden – uh-oh. But Adrian? He’s been energetic since the day I met him.” – Russ Paine, Peterson’s Houston-based rehab therapist, asserting the keys to the rehab process

“It wasn’t anything like, ‘Aw, man. Here it goes.’ It was more of an ‘Alright, let’s go. Let’s get to work.’ … [I plan to work with Matt Kalil] quite a bit. You’re going to take time out. Again, it’s a new face. And along the offensive line, the whole thing is to work in synch and work together … My skill set is for playing football. I wouldn’t say that I have a skill set for guard or I have a skill set for tackle. I feel like I have a skill set to play offensive line and play football.” – Offensive lineman Charlie Johnson, expressing his willingness to move from left tackle to left guard following the Vikings’ addition of Kalil

“I don't think there's any question that if this doesn't get done this year, the league's standpoint is it starts back at Square 1 next year, And what's going to change? And if nothing is going to change, you are going to have political dynamics changing. You're going to have lots of different people nominating different sites ... These things cost millions and millions of dollars just to get it to this point. What would be the justification for doing it again on the part of the Vikings?" – Eric Grubman, NFL executive vice president of business operations, expressing frustration and fears of what might happen if the Vikings push for a new stadium didn’t gain approval during the legislative session

“I think it’s time for the Vikings to win a Super Bowl. And we need a new stadium so we can do that here in Minneapolis.” – Ponder, speaking at the state capitol, as the Vikings’ stadium saga reached its critical stage

“If the thought is I'm going to support an inadequate bonding bill or a terrible tax policy approach in order to get a stadium, then we're going to have to sit down and rethink [things] -- by we, I mean the entire House." – State representative Terry Morrow, a leading Vikings stadium supporter, commenting on the political complications involved in the organization’s push for a new stadium.

"This is the time to get things done. I've been here several times on the stadium front over the years. In 2006, they moved forward with a stadium for the Twins and the Gophers. We were asked to move to the next year. And it's now 2012." – Goodell, on a visit to the Twin Cities in April to express his concerns for the obstacles the Vikings were facing in a push to get a new stadium

****

“We’re here to stay, guys. … We knew from Day One that we were going to fight in making sure that this day would come. Our commitment to having Minnesota Vikings football here for generations was always the overriding factor to making sure that got done. And I’m happy that everyone stepped forward to getting that done.” – Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, after the bill to get a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis was finalized and approved

“Uhhhh, I’m not familiar with names yet … When you go 3-13, it happens. This is a business and hopefully change will be good. We have a lot of young guys hungry to compete.” – Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, during the Vikings’ first week of organized team activities, assessing all the new faces around him in the secondary

“Anybody that witnessed that play today, you’ve got to get jacked up. That was an incredible play and one of the reasons we get excited about him. We’re hoping to see that on Sunday afternoons, plays like that.” – Frazier, during the second week of OTAs, reacting to a much-talked-about circus catch that Simpson made over Cook on a deep route up the right sideline

“I'll put it this way, it's a lot of different things that have to be sorted out. Just haven't been too happy lately. So we've got a couple things to work on." – Receiver Percy Harvin, delivering a surprise revelation at mini-camp that he was unhappy. Soon after, Harvin and his agent requested a trade

“You definitely don’t want to lose this guy … I’m sure the organization will do whatever it has to do to keep this guy around. If it was me, I would make sure we kept him around but we’ll see.” -- Peterson, reacting to Harvin’s discontent that he said was more bothersome than distracting

“The Minnesota Vikings have no interest at all in trading Percy Harvin. We drafted Percy Harvin here. He’s a key part of our organization, he’s a key part of our football team and any issues that are out there or reported, we always handle those internally and we’ll continue to handle those internally.” – Spielman, addressing Harvin’s unhappiness and his trade request

“The Vikings are aware of the situation and working to gather more detail. We will have no further comment at this time.” – Statement from the Vikings after it was learned in early July that Peterson had been arrested at a nightclub in Houston. The Vikings also had a near-identical version of that statement dusted off five weeks earlier when running back Jerome Felton was arrested and charged with driving while impaired. Five weeks before that running back Caleb King was arrested after allegedly fracturing another man’s skull in an assault outside of a party

“The officer told Peterson that he was under arrest, but Peterson began yelling, struggling as the officer attempted to put on handcuffs and ignoring commands to stop resisting, [according to Houston police spokesperson Kese Smith]. Peterson pulled away from the officer ‘and assumed a violent stance,’ Smith said. A second officer working security at the club began to assist, but it took a third police officer also working security to detain the 6-foot-1, 217-pound Peterson.” – excerpt from Star Tribune report documenting Peterson’s arrest with details from the Houston police

“’A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.’ WC” – Tweet from Peterson, quoting Winston Churchill, the day after his arrest.

“Adrian Peterson did not resist arrest this past Saturday morning and any suggestion that he pushed, struck or shoved a Houston Police Officer is a total fabrication. He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason, and when all the evidence is impartially reviewed, it will clearly show Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor.” – Rusty Hardin, Peterson’s high-powered attorney, issuing his first statement on his client’s arrest

“For me, you take excitement in the process. You look at the small steps and how things continue to build. And you have to acknowledge progress and show guys not only where they are but where they’re headed and where they’ve come from … You may not see all this from the outside. But internally you can see all this starting to come together. And that’s exciting. With the understanding that it takes time.” – Spielman, addressing his eagerness for training camp to begin in Mankato
 

Market moves: How the Vikings have handled free agency to date

Posted by: Updated: March 29, 2012 - 2:39 PM

It’s been 16 days now since free agency opened across the NFL. Here’s your comprehensive report on how the Vikings have operated in the market over the past two-and-a-half weeks.

RE-SIGNED

 
Erin Henderson
Leslie Frazier loves Henderson’s energy, growth potential and position flexibility at linebacker. Henderson is pleased with his new one-year, $2 million deal and hopes a superb 2012 will lead to a much bigger pay day next March.
 
Letroy Guion
The Remi Ayodele experiment at nose tackle was a failure. Now the 24-year-old Guion will get a shot to flourish in a leading role there. In what will be an under-the-radar storyline but important nonetheless, Guion’s development under new defensive line coach Brendan Daly will be worth monitoring.
 
Devin Aromashodu
After a 26-catch, 468-yard season in 2011, Aromashodu will be back for another year. The Vikings have no plans on making him a featured offensive weapon but believe he can be a valuable contributor on the perimeter.
 
Sage Rosenfels
Starting quarterback Christian Ponder is 24 and entering his second season. Back-up Joe Webb is 25 and entering his third season. Rosenfels may be highly unlikely to see the field on game days – he hasn’t thrown a pass in a game since 2008 – but the Vikings feel his veteran presence and intelligence will provide a healthy environment for their two other young signal callers to learn in.
 
Fred Evans
Evans is entering his sevent season and will be asked to push Guion at nose tackle.
 
NEW ADDITIONS
 
John Carlson
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is tweaking his playbook for the new two Notre Dame tight end sets. The pairing of Carlson with Kyle Rudolph should add a new dimension to the offense. Musgrave and General Manager Rick Spielman expect Carlson to be fully recovered after missing all of 2011 due to  a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
 
Zack Bowman
The flashes of brilliance Bowman showed in 2009 when he had six interceptions with the Bears were enough to convince the Vikings to roll the dice. Working with head coach Leslie Frazier and new defensive coordinator Alan Williams, both of who have good track records developing defensive backs, may provide Bowman a boost at corner.
 
Geoff Schwartz
Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson vouched for Schwartz’s talents, having coached him in 2009 and 2010 in Carolina. Like Carlson, Schwartz missed all of 2011; he had hip surgery. But he has an ability to help at both guard and tackle and should enter training camp with an opportunity to compete for a starting spot inside.
 
Lex Hilliard
Hilliard received his Vikings’ internal vote of confidence from running backs coach James Saxon, with whom he worked in Miami in 2009 and 2010. He has value as a multi-dimensional fullback.
 
Jerome Felton
Drafted in the fifth round in 2008 by Detroit, Felton is entering his fifth season with his fourth different team and will compete for a job at fullback.
 
STILL OUT THERE
 
Husain Abdullah
Abdullah missed the final seven games of 2011 after suffering his second concussion of the season and fourth in two years. Durability is a concern. But the Vikings have offered Abdullah a contract and a chance to come back. The dependable safety is currently mulling the offer.
 
E.J. Henderson
Odds are good Henderson will be separated from his younger brother. He’s 32, entering his 10th NFL season and spent much of last year dealing with nagging knee pain. But E.J. has yet to sign elsewhere and the Vikings say they’ll leave the door open a crack for a possible return – but only if they can get him to accept a lessened role and a discount deal.
 
GONE
 
Visanthe Shiancoe
With Carlson on board, Shiancoe’s five-year run in Minnesota (208 catches, 2,424 yards, 24 TDs) is over.
 
Kenny Onatolu
A linebacker who was at his best on special teams, Onatolu has signed a new deal with the Panthers.
 
Lorenzo Booker
Ball security was an issue last season with Booker stumbling in his limited opportunities as a tailback and kick returner.
 
Greg Camarillo
The veteran receiver is still on the open market but doesn’t help the Vikings address any of their needs.
 
Tyrell Johnson
The Vikings’ second-round pick in 2008, Johnson never really broke through and ended last season on injured reserve after tearing a hamstring.
 
Benny Sapp
Sapp’s seven-game return to Minnesota late last season came only after the Vikings’ secondary went through major attrition. Prior to signing, Sapp had spent the previous nine weeks out of football. He might want to get used to that lifestyle again.
 
Jarrad Page
Another late-season addition in 2011, Page arrived in Week 13 and was simply a crutch to help the Vikings stumble to the finish line of a miserable season. Earlier this month, Page signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
 
Xavier Adibi
The young linebacker barely saw the field in 2011, his first and likely only season with the Vikings.
 
Matt Katula
Brought in after long snapper Cullen Loeffler broke a bone in his back, Katula was erratic. Kicker Ryan Longwell missed two field goal attempts and a PAT during Katula’s five-game stay.
 
Scott Kooistra
Kooistra, an offensive lineman, suffered a serious and potentially career-ending neck injury in the first preseason game last season.
 
It’s also worth mentioning that since March 10, the Vikings have released a quartet of veterans: cornerback Cedric Griffin, guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera and defensive tackle Remi Ayodele.
 
WISH LIST GOING FORWARD
  • A standout left tackle.
  • A dynamic receiver who can provide a vertical threat to the passing game.
  • Lots and lots of safety help. The only safeties currently under contract are Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford and Eric Frampton.
  • Additional help at cornerback – though at full strength, the nucleus of Antoine Winfield, Chris Cook, Asher Allen, Zack Bowman and Marcus Sherels should steady a shaken unit.
  • A reliable No. 3 running back who can backup Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart.
  • Added depth at linebacker.

Vikings sign offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz

Posted by: Updated: March 21, 2012 - 6:13 PM

Eleven days after releasing guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera, the Vikings have made a move to add depth back into their offensive line. This afternoon the team agreed to a deal with free agent lineman Geoff Schwartz.

Schwartz, originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft by Carolina, spent his rookie season on the Panthers' practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster in 2009 and eventually wound up starting all 16 games for Carolina in 2010. But Schwartz spent all of last season on injured reserve after undergoing hip surgery.

He visited with the Vikings on Monday at Winter Park and this evening expressed his jubilation over his new deal on Twitter. Wrote Schwartz: "Excited to be a Minnesota #Viking!!!"

Terms of Schwartz's new deal are not yet known. He does have an ability to play both tackle and guard, versatility the Vikings will no doubt try to take advantage of.

Despite cutting ties with Hutchinson and Herrera, two proven and respected veterans, the Vikings believe they have pieces in place to pick up the slack up front. Charlie Johnson, who started last season at left tackle, is a candidate to move inside to guard, especially if the Vikings use the No. 3 pick in next month's draft on Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil.

General manager Rick Spielman is also encouraged by what he's seen from Joe Berger and Brandon Fusco, both of whom could compete for starting roles on next year's line. But the Vikings may give the 25-year-old Schwartz the inside track to start at guard. He'd also be valuable as a reserve swing lineman, able to play multiple positions if called upon to do so.

After a shaky 2011, the Vikings believe their offensive line play will take a step up this fall, especially if Kalil winds up wearing purple. Center John Sullivan is the best returning lineman in the mix and incumbent right tackle Phil Loadholt was a second-round draft pick three years ago.

It is worth noting that of the four outside free agents the Vikings have signed so far this month, two of them -- Schwartz and tight end John Carlson -- missed all of the 2011 season with injuries.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT